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2013 Signing Class: Ole Miss’ Target Zone

target-with-dartsOle Miss added 28 players from 8 different states on Wednesday and Thursday.  A breakdown of the Rebels’ “target zone” is below:

 

Mississippi = 10 recruits

Georgia = 5

Tennessee = 4

Alabama = 3

Texas = 3

Florida = 1

Illinois = 1

Louisiana = 1

 

In-State Signees = 35.7%

Out-Of-State Signees = 64.2%

 

Observation:

Oh, if Hugh Freeze could just draw it up like this every year.  But it’s not every season the #1 prospect in the country has a brother who’s already on your team and a mother who wants ‘em to play together.  That said, look at the spread of this class — three or more signees from Texas, Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia.  As long as the University of Tennessee is down, Freeze and Ole Miss should just try to annex Memphis.  Also take note of those 10 in-state signees.  Houston Nutt seemed willing to cede many in-state targets to Mississippi State, content to cherry pick the best and then raid other states for talent.  Freeze — at least for one year — seems intent upon taking back the Magnolia State.

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Wow Sunday Headlines 1/27/2013

SEC Saturday Basketball Finals
South Carolina 75 – Arkansas 54
Tennessee 54 – Alabama 53
Kentucky 75 – LSU 70
Missouri 81 – Vanderbilt 59
Georgia 59 – Texas A&M 52
Ole Miss 63 – Auburn 61
Florida 82 – Mississippi State 47
Former Tennessee coach Derek Dooley is the Dallas Cowboys new wide receivers coach
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier asks reporters trivia question and gives out $100 bills to two people who answered correctly
Ole Miss completes contract buyout of former coach Houston Nutt with lump-sum payment of $4.35 million
Follow the SEC every day at MrSEC.com and on Twitter at Twitter.com/mrsec

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Fan Apathy An Issue At Arkansas?

When fans start leaving a game in the second quarter, it’s not a real good sign.  And that’s just what happened during Alabama’s thrashing of free-falling Arkansas.  What’s it mean?  According to Doc Harper of ArkansasSports360.com, it means AD Jeff Long needs to start worrying about the psyche of the Razorback fanbase:

 

“In a matter of eight days, events have resulted in fans blaming Athletic Director Jeff Long, former coach Bobby Petrino, the current coaches, and some have even blamed players. One has to wonder how much more the Arkansas fan base can absorb. After spending several seasons passionately pining for the removal of Houston Nutt, fans seemed to have the answer to all of their questions in Petrino. After a brief taste of the high life in college football, the program feels like it’s back at square one.”

 

So it only takes some Arkansas fans eight days and two losses to jump from their beloved cardinal-and-white (and now black and silver, too) ship?  Yes.  Is that an indictment of a fanbase made up frontrunners?  Not really.  It says more about today’s culture than it does about Arkansas fans.

With the prices fans have to pay to go to games, the smallest reason to stay home often leads many to do just that.  In an instant gratification society, the gratification needs to be both instant and constant.  Or else.

Don’t believe me?  Let Nick Saban lose back-to-back games and there would be a few Alabama fans who’d start barking about complacency.  Guaranteed.

As Harper astutely points out, the current situation in Fayetteville could impact who Long brings in as the school’s next coach:  “Now, if the new coach fails to generate instant enthusiasm, will fans have the patience to wait for success?”

The key word in his closing sentence?  Instant.

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Irony Of Ironies: Records Of Petrino’s Calls And Texts Released

About five years ago many Arkansas fans wanted rid of Houston Nutt.  Someone did a Freedom of Information Act hunt of his phone records.  It was learned that he’d been sending an awful lot of texts back and forth with an Arkansas-based television anchorwoman.  That info made its way to the press as part of a smear on Nutt.

So Nutt left and Bobby Petrino was brought in to save the Razorback football program. 

He did.  He brought big wins, a BCS bowl and millions of dollars to the school.  But apparently Petrino didn’t think the whole “using a state-owned cell phone” thing applied to anyone but his predecessor.

Yesterday — thanks again to the Freedom of Information Act — it was learned that Petrino and Jessica Dorrell exchanged more than 4,300 texts and almost 300 phone call over the last seven months. 

According to ESPN.com, some of the texts included picture and video files.  Uh-oh.

In Nutt’s case many Arkansas fans were outraged that their coach was texting a woman right before the kickoff of a Citrus Bowl game in which he was coaching.  Well, turns out Petrino was also sending gameday texts to Dorrell. 

To quote “Airplane 2″… “Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes.”

What we have is a case of a football coach feeling that he’s truly unbeatable.  It would take a team of sociologists to determine the point at which a man receives so much praise that he begins to believe he is invincible, but that surely looks to be the situation here.

Petrino went for a ride on his motorcycle — with no helmet — with a 25-year-old honey wrapped around him.  In other words, he wasn’t worried about any fellow motorists seeing the head coach of the University of Arkansas football team and asking, “Hey, who’s the girl?”

Then — having not learned any lesson from the recent Jim Tressel and Bruce Pearl sagas — he tried to go the cover-up route.

Finally, Petrino paid no mind to the fact that the last Arkansas football coach wound up in the news because he sent umpteen texts to a woman who wasn’t his wife via his official UA cellphone. 

That’s awfully reckless behavior for someone making more than three million bucks per year.

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Meyer, Nutt Deny Coaching Rumors

Two ex-SEC coaches — well, one’s about to be an ex — are denying rumors and reports that they are set to become coaches elsewhere.

Despite multiple reports claiming that Urban Meyer has agreed to a $40 million deal to coach Ohio State, the ex-Florida coach continues to deny that any job has been offered or accepted.

“I have not been offered any job nor is there a deal in place,” he said in a statement.  “I plan on spending Thanksgiving with my family and will not comment on this any further.”

Meyer is not scheduled to work a college football game this weekend for ESPN, however.  It’s believed he will be at network headquarters instead.

Meanwhile, as Houston Nutt prepares to coach his last game at Ole Miss, rumors are swirling that he will wind up as the next head coach at Memphis.   A Rivals.com report suggested yesterday that a deal was already in place for Nutt to move the 85 miles up I-55 from Oxford to the Bluff City. 

Yesterday, Nutt was asked if he’d been talking to officials from the Tiger program:


“No, I have not.  No contact whatsoever.  They got a head coach.  Strictly a rumor.  I have not talked to anybody there with Memphis.  That’s really unfair to Coach (Larry) Porter.  He’s the coach there.  Everybody needs to respect that and let me finish this game here.”


Apparently no one asked him if his agent, Jimmy Sexton, had been talking to Memphis’ brass.

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Mullen, Nutt Took Very Different Approaches To The Egg Bowl… And Mullen’s Method Worked A Lot Better

Dan Mullen isn’t afraid of his team being tight against Ole Miss.  The idea of treating the Egg Bowl as just another game is foreign to him.  And that’s one reason he gigs UM every chance he gets — whether its saying “the school up north” or telling his team last year that they would never lose to the Rebels again.

It’s all part of Mullen’s master plan:


“The reason we do it is because we have to make sure our kid know that this game is different and our approach has to be different to this game. … Within our program, by how we refer to their school and having a (countdown) clock in our locker room and all of those things, it changes the mindset of the players when you get to this week.  They know this is not just the next game on the schedule.  This is a different game.”


Compare that to the approach of soon-to-be ex-Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt, who now admits that he “didn’t think very much about” the Egg Bowl rivalry when he arrived in Oxford.  But…


“All it takes is one loss against them.  Then you understand it much, much, much, much, much, much better.  I understand it fully.  Totally.  We understand the emphasis that needs to be placed on this game, 100 percent.”


One has to wonder if Nutt could have survived at Ole Miss if he’d gone 3-0 against MSU and not 1-2 with back-to-back losses to the mouthy Mullen.

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LSU’s Miles Shows Class By Taking Knee Vs UM

In case you missed the following on Saturday night, it’s worth a look.  Because there aren’t going to be too many times when you see a team take a knee… with five minutes still remaining in the game.

With a first-and-goal at the one and leading 52-3 with five to play, Les Miles had his team kneel down on four consecutive plays, rather than run the score up further on Houston Nutt and the Rebels.

But by trying to show mercy, Miles only opened himself up for criticism.  Some — including the color analyst during ESPN’s broadcast — found Miles’ decision insulting to Ole Miss.

Of course, if Miles and the Tigers had stuck in another one on the Rebs, they would have been criticized for running up the score.

Miles said after the game that “victory was assured, there was no reason to take snaps at that point.”

Nutt — who looked a bit bewildered when it happened — credited Miles for trying to be a good sport.  “That’s the first time that happened to me.  Les is just trying to be nice right there.  I appreciate it but either way it doesn’t make you feel good. … He’s a good man.  He understands.”

Those who’ve criticized Miles do not understand.  He was in a lose-lose situation.  Anyone trying to make a mountain out of this mole hill is simply looking for column content.

Miles tried to show class.  A tip of the hat — pun intended — to him for that.  And if Rebel players were somehow disrespected by a team taking a knee, well, best to not let the other team get up by 49 points with five minutes to play.

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Leach Says He’s Not Been Contacted By Ole Miss

Among fans, he’s probably the most popular coaching prospect in the country.  But when it comes to administrators, boards and presidents who actually hire football coaches… not so much.

Mike Leach — whose name has been kicked around as a possible replacement for Houston Nutt by everyone including Houston Nutt — sounded a bit disappointed this afternoon when Oxford radio host Erik Ryan Solberg asked him on WUMS-FM if he’d been contacted by Ole Miss officials:


“I wouldn’t tell ya if I had… but I haven’t.”


A hint of frustration could be detected as he uttered those last three words.

Leach once again reiterated that “Ole Miss is a job that I think anyone would have an interest in” and that “all SEC jobs are good and they’re all exciting.”

Looking at Leach’s success at Texas Tech — 10 bowls in 10 years, good graduation rates, etc — there are only two possible reasons the man with the explosive offense hasn’t been snapped up by a program hungry for success:


1.  His mercurial nature

2.  His lawsuit against the most powerful entity in sports, ESPN


Perhaps Archie Manning and crew will pick up a phone and chat with Leach at some point in the coming weeks.  But since he’s already out of work and free to talk, if someone was going to contact him from Oxford, they’d have likely done so by now.

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AU’s Malzahn Doesn’t Have Much To Say About UM Job

The good news regarding Ole Miss’ decision to announce Houston Nutt’s dismissal in early November: The Rebels have plenty of time to find a quality replacement.

The bad news: A lot of candidates will now have to spend the next month ducking questions about the Ole Miss job.

Start with Gus Malzahn.  The Auburn offensive coordinator was asked about the Ole Miss gig this week.  His response:


“I’ve got my hands full trying to score points against Georgia.  That’s my only focus.”


Short and sweet.  With the exception of guys like Mike Leach and Rich Rodriguez who are out of work, Rebel fans should expect to hear a lot of guys make comments just like Malzahn’s in the weeks ahead.

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Mullen Sad “Any Time You See A Coach” Lose His Job

In his three years at Mississippi State, Dan Mullen has thrown more than his fair share of digs, slights and barbs at Ole Miss and Houston Nutt.

When asked about Nutt’s dismissal in Oxford, Mullen didn’t specifically address the downfall of his chief in-state rival:


“That’s always a shame in this profession.  When you live in this (coaching) world, you have a very different perspective of how that affects, not just the head coach, but an awful lot of assistant coaches, their families and their livelihoods of how hard that can be on a family.  A lot of times people get caught up in what it is and sometimes it’s just a game, other times it’s more than a game to people in the coaching profession.  This is hard on our family’s lives.  I commit so much time away from my family.  It’s not something we take very lightly, so any time you see a coach potentially lose a job, it’s a sad day.”


Mullen also stated that he doesn’t think Ole Miss will be any more fired up for this year’s Egg Bowl than they have been the past two years (both MSU wins).

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